Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 36: Chesed b'Yesod

This week we welcome Rabbi Howard Cohen of Judaism Outdoors: Burning Bush Adventures to our Omer project. Through Burning Bush Adventures, Rabbi Cohen takes people into the wilderness for an unforgettable experience of God, Judaism, and wilderness, so it is not surprising that he has chosen wilderness as the theme for this week of Yesod, or foundation. Wilderness as foundation.

Prior to entering rabbinical school Howard worked for Outward Bound in Minnesota, Florida, Maine, and England. He has been guiding canoe and dog sled trips in New England for over 30 years, and he created Burning Bush Adventures in 1990. He serves as the rabbi of Congregation Shirat Hayam in Marshfield, MA, and is a New York State licensed wilderness guide, Wilderness First Responder, and a Lietenant in the Bennington Fire Department. 

During this week of Yesod, may we feel the foundations of our hearts and souls being renewed, enriched, and strengthened, as we journey through the penultimate week of the Omer, closing in on standing at Sinai.

Rabbi Katy Allen

Chesed b’Yesod
by Rabbi Howard Cohen

Yaakov Yitzchak as a child used to wander in the woods. At first his father let him wander, but over time he became concerned. The woods were not safe in his mind. There were wild animals, poisonous plants, stinging insects, bandits, steep ravines, and dangerous cliffs. He decided to discuss the matter with his child. One day he took him aside and said, “You know, I have noticed that each day you walk into the woods. I wonder, why do you go there?” To his surprise, the boy said to his father, “I go there to find God.” The father replied gently, “That is a very good thing. I am glad you are searching for God. But, my child, don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?” The boy answered, “yes, but I’m not.”  --Yaakov Yitzchak, The Seer of Lublin

Reflections / Contemplation: 
What is it about wilderness/outdoors that makes it seem easier for us to have an encounter with the numinous?
What responsibilities flow from the identification of wilderness as having important spiritual significance?

A Commitment for Inner / Outer Action: 
I will enter the week of Yesod by making a commitment to spend at least 18 minutes outdoors every day this week, rain or shine. I will simply be outside observing and experiencing, not doing work of any sort.

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